09 March 2023, Geneva Switzerland: Access to rapid molecular testing for TB is a right of people affected by TB. The Stop TB Partnership, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) announced a substantial price cut to the Truenat TB diagnostic test under a landmark agreement signed with Molbio Diagnostics, the maker of TB test Truenat.
Under the agreement, the price of the Truenat MTB and MTB Plus test will come down to US$ 7.90 per test from the current price of US$ 9. This will also include the supply of MTB-RIF Dx tests for subsequent testing for rifampicin resistance. Additionally, Molbio Diagnostics has agreed to provide timely service and maintenance of their diagnostic instruments.
The aim of the collaboration is to reduce the costs of rapid molecular testing for TB and rifampicin resistance, making it more widely available to people in need. The Truenat diagnostic system works on batteries, is portable and is built to operate in peripheral settings.
“This is a historical moment as it will be the first time ever that we have a rapid molecular test for TB and rifampicin resistance that costs less than US$8 per test. This is more than 20% lower than what is currently available on the market for other types of tests in the same category,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.
“We also have an amazing “package of services” offered by Molbio Diagnostics, and a firm commitment to offer low prices for private sector providers. We are absolutely thrilled by this collaboration with a company from the highest TB burden country that fully understands the need for securing access to a rapid molecular diagnosis for everyone in need. I hope we all feel even more comfortable saying: Yes! We can end TB, which is the slogan for this year’s World TB Day on 24 March,” added Dr. Ditiu.
As part of the collaboration, the Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund will sign new deals with Molbio Diagnostics to:
1. provide Truenat MTB, MTB Plus and MTB-RIF Dx tests at a reduced price in all countries that the Global Fund, Stop TB and USAID support
2. reinforce commitment to service and maintenance by providing a global standard service level agreement with defined key performance indicators
3. extend similar pricing to public and private sector buyers, where terms are applicable
TB remains the world’s oldest and deadliest infectious disease. Every day, 4400 people continue to die from TB, a treatable and curable airborne infectious disease.
In 2021, WHO estimated that 4.2 million people with TB were not diagnosed, which is 40% of the overall estimated global burden of TB. Of the estimated 450,000 people who developed multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), just one in three received follow-on drug susceptibility testing and were linked to MDR-TB treatment. This significant gap in access to rapid molecular testing for TB and drug resistance stands as one of the largest shortfalls in the global TB response today.
The Stop TB Partnership published the Global Plan to End TB 2023-2030 in July 2022 where it outlined the priority actions and estimated resources needed to end TB as a global health threat by 2030. A total of US$250 billion is needed to end TB by 2030 with an impressive return on investment of US$40 dollar per one dollar invested. Scale up of rapid molecular tests for TB is one of the priority actions that is delivered through the Global Drug Facility (GDF), the largest pooled procurement mechanism for TB medicines and diagnostics. The new pricing for Truenat tests will be reflected in the catalog of Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility (GDF). GDF will inform its clients as soon as the new prices for Truenat tests are accessible via the GDF online procurement platform.